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HRM Practices in the Public and Private Sectors: Differences and Similarities

Author: GEDALIAHU H. HAREL AND SHAY S. TZAFRIR
Published in PAQ, Vol. 25 No. 3

The purpose of this study was to examine empirically if there are differences
in the way that HRM practices are performed in the private
and public sectors of the economy. The theoretical base of this investigation
is anchored on the proposition that some HR practices are
always better than others and that all organizations should adopt these
“high performance work practices.” In recent years, organizations in
the public and private sectors have witnessed many changes in their
environment. These pressures have pushed organizations from both
sectors to continuously improve their performance. The authors focused
on the macro-level of the organization and its productivity. A total of
102 questionnaires were completed and returned by human resource
VPs, representing 44 percent of the firms contacted.
The hypotheses were tested using data describing human resource
management operation. The authors found that public sector management
emphasizes those HRM domains that deal with employee selection
and grievance procedures because of the sector’s high level of
unionization. On the other hand, private sector management emphasizes
employee growth and pay for performance. Nevertheless, the
authors also found evidence that the public sector is “moving” closer
and closer to the private sector model by adopting “high performance
work practices” in order to overcome the turbulent environment and
public demand.

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